While many studies focus on how screen time affects body weight in youth, there is evidence that the same risks apply to all age groups. One study found that increased time spent watching television was significantly associated with increased body weight in adults. Other studies suggest that risks for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in women increase for every two hours of television watched daily. Limiting your screen time and paying better attention to how it influences your appetite and actions can help you better control your body weight.
Food ads trigger cravings.
Have you ever taken note of your hunger or cravings while watching television commercials or seeing food online? If not, start taking note. Simply seeing a food ad can lead to thoughts about food and take you straight to the kitchen or the fast food drive-thru. Reducing screen time reduces your exposure to these triggers and may help you better control your cravings.
Screen time can take the place of exercise.
Lacing up your tennis shoes and hitting the gym takes more organization and commitment than it takes to sit down and watch a television show or do some research online. It’s not surprising that screen time often takes the place of exercise, leading to fewer calories burned.
Screen time leads to mindless snacking.
Distractions like the television, laptop, or your smartphone can lead to overeating. When you are watching a movie or working at the computer, it is easy to grab snacks by the bag or box for convenience. One handful quickly leads to two and sometimes half the box. What’s worse is that not focusing on the food or truly enjoying it may leave you unsatisfied even after eating hundreds of extra calories.
Screen time can interfere with sleep.
Screen time activities can be addictive. You may stay up to finish watching a show or to play a few more rounds of your favorite computer game, which eats into the hours of sleep you need each night. In addition, research shows that light from electronic devices may lower levels of important hormones that help regulate sleep patterns. Not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night can influence appetite hormones that lead to hunger and weight gain.
Understanding proper food portions allows you to develop a healthier relationship with food and decrease your calorie intake. For at least a few weeks, grab the measuring cups, spoons, and kitchen scale. Measure your food so that you know what a four ounce chicken breast, a half cup of rice, and eight ounces of milk look like. Over time you will be able to eyeball a healthy portion. This will help you better control the amount you eat when you are served too much food -- like when dining out.
Leave serving dishes in the kitchen.
Serve your meals buffet style in the kitchen. Fill your plate with healthy portions and take it to the dining room table. Save family-style meals where the serving dishes sit on the table for special occasions. It makes it much easier to mindlessly scoop out a second or third helping when the food is within reach.
Eat more often.
Research results are mixed as to whether it is more beneficial to eat three larger meals a day or to incorporate smaller meals with snacks. If you find you can’t control your appetite between meals, consider spreading your calorie intake more evenly throughout the day. This makes it easier to listen to hunger signals and have a snack when you are truly hungry without consuming too many calories that could prevent weight loss. Everyone is different. Experiment a little to find what combination of healthy meals and snacks work best to keep you satisfied.
Increase your protein intake.
Protein helps to stabilize your blood sugar and prevent spikes and crashes that drain your energy. If your diet is heavy in carbohydrates, like fruit or grains, try increasing your protein intake to better control hunger. Eat a few nuts with your fruit, or try beans with rice or quinoa.
Incorporate your favorite foods.
Deprivation always leads to more cravings. When you deny yourself your favorite foods, you risk overdoing it when you finally indulge. When you know a food is not off limits and that you can have a small amount whenever you truly want it, you will be less likely to become fixated and binge on those foods.
Clear off the countertops.
Simply keeping food out of sight can do wonders for controlling your appetite. Seal up those bags of pretzels and boxes of crackers and put them in the pantry. This will prevent you from wanting to grab a quick handful every time you walk into the kitchen.
Sometimes simply staying busy is enough to keep your mind off unnecessary snacking. Make a running list of things you would like to accomplish or things that will distract you from food. When you find yourself tempted to snack during down time, pull out the list. Send the email you’ve been putting off, organize your pile of magazines, or do a quick set of ab exercises.
Eliminate distracted eating.
Eating when your focus is not on the activity at hand only leads to overeating. Turn off the television, close the laptop, and set down the smartphone. Eat mindfully, enjoy your food, and stop when you begin to feel full.
Developing healthy habits and eating to lose weight takes discipline and that means setting a few boundaries. This might be closing the kitchen after dinner, only eating pre-portioned healthy snacks, or having dessert only twice a week. Identify what makes you stray from your plan and develop some healthy rules that help you stay on track.
A healthy salad can serve as a quick and easy meal when you have a refrigerator full of leftovers. Roasted chicken adds protein to nutritious greens in this recipe. It’s all topped off with a super-simple barbecue dressing for a filling lunch or dinner.
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
8 cups mixed lettuce or greens
1 cup finely chopped green cabbage
1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
½ cup cooked corn
12 oz. roasted chicken breast, warmed
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp prepared barbecue sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Add 2 cups of lettuce to each serving bowl. Top with ¼ cup of chopped cabbage and ¼ of the tomatoes. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of corn over each salad. Add 3 ounces of roasted chicken to each bowl.
In a small dish, whisk together the orange juice and barbecue sauce. Whisk in the olive oil, black pepper, and garlic powder.
Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of dressing over each salad before serving.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 242; Total Fat 7.1 g; Saturated Fat 1.3 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 72 mg; Sodium 167 mg; Carbohydrate 18.9 g; Fiber 6 g; Sugar 8 g; Protein 28.9 g
The knee is a complex and resilient joint that can absorb loads more than four times your body weight. Knees are used in almost every activity, which leaves them vulnerable to injury. This doesn't mean that avoiding activity is the best way to protect knees. Research shows that exercise helps prevent knee osteoarthritis by maintaining cartilage for healthy joints. The key is to keep knees safe during exercise to stay pain and injury-free.
Set things up.
Weight machines have adjustments so you can set the seat and levers according to your your height and the weight load according to your strength. Machines like the leg press, leg extension, and leg curl can stress the knee joint if not adjusted for your individual needs. Ask for an orientation on all gym equipment before getting started, and make a note of the settings so that you can adjust the equipment correctly yourself during each workout.
Use correct form.
Squats and lunges are notorious for causing knee pain when performed incorrectly. The general rule has always been to keep the knee from moving forward beyond the toes when squatting or lunging. According to the American Council on Exercise, new recommendations state that it’s more important to hinge the hips by pushing them backward before lowering into the exercise position. The knees should align over the second toe so that the knee moves in the same direction as your ankle joint. Depending on height and limb length, for some people this may cause the knee to appear to move forward beyond the toes. For these individuals, this is considered a safe movement because keeping the knee further in can increase stress on the lower back.
Be selective about surfaces.
Hard surfaces like concrete can add stress to the knee joint during running, walking, and jumping. Move your workouts to softer surfaces to protect the knees. Tracks, dirt trails, grass, asphalt, and the treadmill all provide better shock absorption.
Know what you can handle.
Experienced athletes can perform exercises, such as deep knee bends or squats, without adding unnecessary stress to the knee joints. Problems arise when you attempt these exercises before you understand correct form and before you have built the necessary strength to handle the movement. If your goal is to perform more advanced exercises, seek the advice of a trainer to guide you through a program that will teach you proper form and gradually build your strength to meet your goals.
Wear quality shoes.
A quality pair of athletic shoes with good arch support helps with shock absorption and alignment, which protects the knees during exercise. Pay attention to the age of your shoes. Minor knee pain could be an indication that you need a new pair. It’s recommended that athletic shoes be replaced every 300 to 500 miles or every 3 to 6 months.
The physical effects of a good laugh provide instant relief for stress and anxiety. While researchers find it difficult to pinpoint exactly how laughter produces these results, there is evidence to suggest that a good chuckle improves health. Not only does laughter produce changes that are linked to a decreased risk for chronic disease, these changes also influence weight loss.
Laughter and Weight Loss
Research shows that laughter causes physical changes that are similar to those produced by a mini workout. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, which delivers oxygen to tissues throughout the body. A study conducted at Vanderbilt University estimated that 10 to 15 minutes of laughter can burn 50 calories.
Laughter alone won’t replace exercise as a tool for weight loss, but there are other benefits that can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. After laughter produces the effects of a mini workout, muscle relaxation and a decrease in blood pressure follow, which can result in improved sleep. Adequate sleep influences the hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin increases appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods. Leptin signals fullness. Sleep keeps these hormones in balance, helping you to better control appetite and reach weight loss goals.
Positive Attitude and Chronic Disease
Studies suggest that over time negative feelings such as stress, anger, fear, and anxiety can influence health so much that they increase risk for chronic disease. Regular laughter is related to positive thoughts that trigger the release of neuropeptides and decrease the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. As a result, laughter helps to fight stress and negative thoughts that can lead to disease. The influence of laughter on health was supported by a study from the University of Maryland Medical Center which concluded that regular laughter may help protect against heart disease.
Research shows that laughter also reduces pain. Laughing causes a release of feel-good hormones (endorphins) that act as natural painkillers. Reduced pain can lead to ease of movement and the motivation to be more physically active. Regular exercise helps to improve mood and attitude and reduces risk for chronic disease.